Time now for a few words about our ongoing lockdown. Some people were sure it would be a major benefit to TV and screenwriters. How’s that working for us so far?
Despite Solitude, Lockdown Wasn’t A Creative Boon for Screenwriters
by Bryn Sandberg
Writing was the rare Hollywood vocation that never had to shut down, but A-list scribes including Damon Lindelof and Courtney Kemp describe a different reality: “I’ve written less in the last year than I have my entire career.”
One time, Michael Green, the screenwriter of Logan and Blade Runner 2049, was road-tripping when, 100 miles in, he realized he’d been driving in second gear the whole time. To him, that’s what it feels like trying to write scripts during a pandemic. “It’s not that your engine can’t do it, but you’re spending a lot of energy, and it’s certainly not as efficient,” he says. “I’ve written less in the last year than I have in my entire career.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by a host of other writers, who, like nearly everyone else fortunate enough to transition to remote work this past year, have had to find creative ways to maintain their pre-COVID-19 productivity. Before the pandemic, Hollywood’s scribes would have killed to have the world stop for a time — finally, a chance to write that spec! — but few are emerging with a fistful of scripts. “We’ve all dreamed of having six months to work on whatever we want,” says Green. “But I don’t know anyone who wrote the spec they were dying to.”
Instead, several screenwriters say they’ve struggled to get into the right headspace. “When lockdown first started, everything stopped in me creatively,” says Russian Doll co-creator Leslye Headland, who is penning a new Star Wars series for Disney+. Despite converting a closet on the second floor of her Brooklyn apartment into an office to give herself a dedicated workspace, she didn’t find a cure for her writer’s block until a friend recommended Cal Newport’s book Deep Work, and she learned about the Pomodoro Technique, a method in which you write in 25-minute increments punctured by five-minute breaks. It reinvigorated her writing….